The Hired Girl
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick Press, 2015. 387 pgs. Young Adult
Told in the form of a diary, fourteen-year-old Joan longs to read books and go to school, but after her mother’s death she is needed to run the household on the farm. One day after her cruel father is particularly harsh, Joan runs away and ends up in Baltimore. With no place to go and unsure who to trust, Joan luckily is offered a job as a hired girl by the Rosenbachs, a wealthy Jewish family. Naïve and headstrong, Joan is unfamiliar with the distinctions between social classes and the religious customs of a Jewish household. Her impulsiveness often times leads to embarrassing and humorous mistakes. Though frequently exacerbated, Joan’s earnestness and willingness to work hard endear her to the Rosenbachs. Joan also grows to care for the family as she has her world opened to questions of faith, women’s education, art, literature, and even romance.
Schlitz includes great period details, especially about clothing, and candidly discusses class, religion, the need to belong, and womanhood with an expert touch. I would highly recommend this book.